Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Fiers) vs Reds (Cueto)

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you're looking for something to do while waiting for today's game, I'll be appearing on The Watercooler with Jimmie Kaska on Sports Radio 1400 in Eau Claire around 5:10 and The Sports Den with Downtown Ollie Burrows on SportsFan 100.5 in Wausau at 5:45. - KL

This is the second time this season the Brewers have won four consecutive home games. They haven't taken five in a row since winning seven in a row from August 3-17 last season.

If this streak is going to reach five it'll probably require a strong outing from Mike Fiers (1.88 ERA, 2.30 FIP), who lately has been the Brewer pitcher most likely to produce such an outing. Fiers has allowed two runs or less in each of his last eight starts, striking out 54 and walking just 14 in 53 innings over that stretch. He held the Astros to two runs on eight hits on Wednesday, walking none and striking out six.

The Reds could be an interesting test for Fiers, as he's a pitcher that doesn't give up many home runs (just three over 72 innings) and they're second in the National League with 125 on the season. Two of Fiers' three career homers allowed have come against lefties, though, and Jay Bruce is the only notable lefthanded batter on their active roster.

Tonight will be Fiers' 15th major league appearance and the Reds will be the first team ever to face him a second time. He pitched six innings against them on July 22 and allowed two runs (one earned) over six innings. He also hit the only batter of his career in that game. No Reds have faced Fiers ten times or more.

He'll face a familiar foe and the Reds' best pitcher in Johnny Cueto (2.52 ERA, 3.05 FIP), who is better in nearly every way than he was when he posted a 2.31 ERA in 2011. Cueto has scuffled a bit lately, though, allowing eight earned runs in his last two starts while still winning both games. He allowed four runs on eight hits against the Padres over 7.1 innings on August 2, walking one and striking out nine. He allowed two home runs in that game after going 75.1 innings without one.

Here's an interesting statistical quirk: Cueto has received the decision in each of his last 15 appearances, going all the way back to May 15. He's 10-5 in those games, although that's not necessarily the best indicator of pitcher performance. He also leads all NL pitchers with 10 hit batsmen, and the Brewers lead all of baseball with 63 HBP.

Cueto has already faced the Brewers twice this season and pitched very well, allowing just one run on 13 hits over 14 innings with two walks and 14 strikeouts. Five current Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Aramis Ramirez 42 .333 .476 .636 1.113
Corey Hart 33 .241 .333 .552 .885
Ryan Braun 30 .241 .267 .310 .577
Rickie Weeks 28 .174 .321 .261 .582
Nyjer Morgan 22 .350 .364 .450 .814

As of this writing tonight's lineup has not been posted. If you've seen it, please drop it in the comments.

And in the bullpen:

John Axford pitched 1.2 innings (29 pitches) last night.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched .1 innings (24 pitches) last night.
Jim Henderson pitched one inning (21 pitches) on Sunday.
Kameron Loe pitched one inning (17 pitches) Sunday.
Livan Hernandez last pitched on Saturday.
Mike McClendon last pitched on Friday.
Jose Veras last pitched on Wednesday.
Manny Parra last pitched on July 24 and has been dealing with shoulder irritation.

It's hot in Milwaukee today but should cool off nicely for the game tonight. Expect a temperature right around 80 at first pitch with the roof open.

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